你好. Nice to write again, specially a topic I considered very important: my experiences learningMandarin. Well, I have to be forthright since the beginning; I still have a long way to go, to say: 我說一口流利的中文.

Learning Chinese have been a gratifying challenge to me. Here is a list of all the activities I have done to learn Mandarin: (1) taken Mandarin required classes; (2) language exchange with Taiwanese; (3) listen to MP3 lessons while jogging; and, (4) learn to sign a couple of famous Taiwanese songs.

Then, how is my Mandarin? I would say, improving. Knowing a new language is not something that I can prove just with a certificate or a grade in my transcripts. I cannot show a diploma or a high score in a test, and say, confidently, "Look, I know this language.” Surely, there will be a Taiwanese willing to have a substantial conversation in his native language. Therefore, I rather prefer to say that I still have room to improve, before saying: "I am fluent in Mandarin."

While learning Mandarin, one of the most memorable activities I have had, was performing the role of Liáng Shānbó (梁山伯), the principal actor of the famous Chinese legend of a tragic love story: The Butterfly Lovers (梁山伯與祝英台.) The pictures you see in this article were taken the moment I am saying sweet word, in Mandarin of course, to Zhù Yīngtái (祝英台). The picture below had become famous; recently, it was used, among others, in the front-page of the 10-Year Decade Review of my Department, –Department of Tropical Agriculture and International Cooperation at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology. I remember I had to watch the movie three times, and memorized a large paragraph suggested by my Mandarin teacher. It was awesome.

Mandarin is an interesting language; it has a logical writing. I like it, specially, for its characters. During my Mandarin classes I have done well with the declarative knowledge (understanding rules, characters, and reading sentences), but I still have problems moving to the procedural knowledge of the language, the actual use of the language on everyday life. The most challenging part has been the usage of tones. For instance, I am pretty sure what is the meaning of 我要買. . . (I want to buy. . .) when I read it, but, often, I don’t use the correct tone while speaking, and I end up saying 我要賣. . . (I want to sell. . . ). Then, as a result, the person at the other side of the teller-machine stares at me, bewildered. At the time, I’m sure; I had used the wrong tone.

Luckily, I always have met wonderful Taiwanese people. Willing to hear me and help me with my language. The most rewarding moments are those when I say something well in Mandarin. Then immediately I received a sincere and enthusiastic “標準” reply, Then, I know, I am in the right direction.

I still remember, back in my country, whenever I was reading something difficult to understand. There was always somebody telling, “It is not written in Chinese. Why you don't understand it?" Implying that if were writing in Chinese, there would be a valid reason for the lack of comprehension. In addition, the cliché has a subtle message in our society: Chinese is difficult or even an impossible language to learn. I personally find it entertaining, useful, and of course, not impossible.

I’ll keep learning Mandarin. Then, in 2011, during my scholarship farewell party I fluently will say: 謝謝ICDF,謝謝台灣,非常感激給我這次非常好的機會。

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